While the sentiments on Day 1 were greatly encouraging, the industry has had the time to study footfall patterns and purchase behaviours over several days, including on the first weekend since the lifting of restrictions. In a second, exciting Pan-India Livestream, from malls across the country, trends were analysed and the challenges going forward, studied.
Panelists from across the country discussed:
– What are the metrics coming out of Metros, Tier I & II malls on the pace and composition of revival?
– How have malls been implementing the guidelines on safety and distancing?
– How are tenants and developers working together to build consumer confidence?
Amitabh Taneja, Chairman, SCAI was the host once more. The session was anchored by Pushpa Bector, Executive Vice President and Head, DLF Shopping Malls.
Manoj Agarwal, CEO, Viviana Mall, Bimal Sharma, Head – Retail & A&T, CBRE and Uddhav Poddar, MD, Bhumika Group moderated the discussion. The live panel reporting from the frontlines included:
– Abhijeet Thakur, Center Head, City Center Mall, Guwahati
– Agnelo Fernandes, Centre Head, Inorbit Mall, Vadodara
– Ashok Khurana, Centre Director, Shopprix Mall, Meerut
– B K Singh, Mall Head, Ambuja City Centre, Haldia & New Town Kolkata
– Bhuvanish Sheth, Director Finance & Marketing, Mall De Goa
– Jawaaz A Sheikh, Centre Head, Inorbit Whitefield Mall, Bengaluru
– Komal Swami, DGM – Leasing & Marketing, WTP Mall, Jaipur
– Monu Nair, Head – Leasing, Centre Square Mall, Kochi
– Muckth Dograa, Centre Head DLF Avenue, New Delhi
– Parvinder Singh, Cenre Head, Novelty Mall, Pathankot
– N Parthasaradhy, VP, GVK One Mall, Hyderabad
– Ramesh Pandey, Whole Time Director, Marketing & Events, Ambuja Neotia Group, Kolkata
– Salim Roopani, SVP, Pacific Malls, Delhi
– Sanjay Kumar Jain, VP-Malls, DB Malls, Bhopal & Gwalior
– Saraswati Singh, EVP, One Awadh Centre, Lucknow
“This week saw the first working weekend for the shopping malls in three months. In this session we will be talking about the consumer reactions and behaviours, the success stories of retailers and mall developers being the part of this excitement, the safety measure in operations, and the categories that performed etc. We also aim to discuss the new challenges and learnings on the ground, which would be the pioneer of taking the retail industry in the future. We will be hearing it all from the mall developers and executives in the form of live reports from Vadodara to Guwahati, Banglaore to Pathankot, Goa to Gwalior, Delhi to Kolkata and other cities pan India. In this session, we intend to understand what is happening on-ground in terms of safety, convenience, comfort and consumer behaviour,” Amitabh Taneja, CMD, IMAGES Group said, in his welcome address.
Pushpa Bector, Executive Vice President and Head, DLF Shopping Malls, welcomed the speakers and shared her thoughts on how DLF Shopping Malls executed the SOPs and other operations in the first week on the re-opening. “The shoppers who visited DLF Malls in this week were the serious buyers. They came with a targeted approach and with a definite plan in their mind, before walking into the mall and were out very quickly after making the purchase. The conversion rate was that much higher. We opened our luxury malls and our South Delhi property with 60 percent occupancy. In Delhi, we are getting four to five thousand people in the mall on a daily basis. F&B will be taking a little more time to gather the heat.”
Bimal Sharma, Head – Retail & A&T, CBRE: “It has been an exciting week for shopping malls after such a long time. I have been to shopping malls and standalone stores in the last week, and the preparation I saw in the shopping malls for the safety of the consumer is worth mentioning. The effort put in by mall staff is very special in itself. This is a challenging period for everyone since most consumers are still not ready to come out of their houses to do the shopping. China and Korea opened their markets and shopping malls when their COVID graph was declining, we opened up when the graph is still rising, therefore people still are in two minds whether to come out of their houses or not. But I feel this a short run challenge and retailers will certainly bounce back from this. The recovery period will be slow for some segments but for others, it will be really quick.”
Manoj Agarwal, CEO, Viviana Mall added to this saying, “Finally we are on verge of getting back the excitement, and the entire week has been very fruitful as well as full of learning for all of us. The new SOPs were challenging, and it was quite exciting to roll them out. In most places, it was seen that consumers are abiding by norms and are coming to the mall with a focused approach. Conversion rate is very high and that is very exciting. Optimism and positivity is the order of the day, and we have to look towards the road to recovery in a more organised manner.”
He added that going further, the 5 C’s of the Post COVID-experience which retail industry will learn from the pandemic would be:
– Collaboration (Retailers),
– Concern (All Staff, Customers & Stakeholders),
– Connect (Customers and all concerned and Govt and SCAI, RAI),
– Confidence (self, business parameters, handling current crisis and in mindset for all including team, staff, customers),
– Comfort (in customer experience, in implementing processes, in shopping, in seamless visits, in respective organisations)
According to Uddhav Poddar, MD, Bhumika Group, this has been a very challenging time and mall owners are feeling as if they are re-launching a new mall altogether. “The week was the result of sincere efforts of mall staff and teams. The effort which is required to launch a new mall is exactly the same which the mall developers are going through at this moment. The only difference is that this time you are portraying the mall as a dependable product in front of consumers. Currently, the situation is not just about one mall but every mall in general.”
Live, On Ground Reports
City Center Mall, Guwahati
Abhijeet Thakur, Center Head: “With City Center Mall being the biggest mall of the region, the mall did good business as far as the sales are concerned. Beauty products from companies like Nykaa and MAC did quite well, with more customers buying their products. adidas also did good business over the weekend. We are still in negotiations with other retailers and are hoping to open more stores in the coming week. We have implemented all security measures and norms mentioned in the SCAI guidelines. The entry of the mall has arrangements marked for social distancing. Every shopper entering the mall must have Aarogya Setu app in his phone and this is being checked thoroughly at the gate. There is a machine installed at the gate where consumers put their hand and the hand gets sanitised automatically. Extra masks are kept for shoppers at the entry.”
Inorbit Mall, Vadodara
Agnelo Fernandes, Centre Head: “We reopened on June 8. While pre-COVID, our operational time was 11 am to 11 pm, now we are closing at 7 pm. In the last one week time, we saw people doing only focused-shopping in the mall. The average dwell time was one hour. The retailers are very happy with the response that they are getting. Consumers are confident in shopping, and the credit of their positive approach goes to the marketing campaigns which we did along with the word of mouth. We had consumers coming to shop from Baruch and Anand, which are 70 and 40 kms respectively from Vadodra. We are very hopeful that the customers will increase more in number. The revival will take a few more months as the confidence-building will take a bit more time to develop.”
Shopprix Mall, Meerut
Ashok Khurana, Centre Director: “We opened on June 12 with the prior permission of the authorities. The authorities came to the mall and were quite satisfied with the arrangements and safety measures. We opened with 85 percent occupancy and footfalls were around 15 percent. The mall witnessed business of around 35 percent. One of the stores did a business of one lakh on the weekend. Big Bazaar as a store and category is doing very well and did an average business of Rs 6 to 7 lakh in all these three days. The big F&B brands like Burger King and Dominos are also doing well but in the form of takeaway purchase. In the fashion category, cosmetics are doing well. There is a lot of family crowd coming in, as also couples. As far as our safety measures are concerned, we gave the guidelines to all the retailers a week back and they implemented them very nicely.”
Ambuja City Centre, Haldia & New Town Kolkata
B K Singh, Mall Head: “We have opened all five malls. The Haldia mall is doing very well and the conversion rate is very high. Every customer entering the mall is buying something and is not roaming around. Despite Haldia being the centre point of the cyclone, the city has recovered and the mall is getting around 50 percent of the footfall. The F&B outlets are open but the bars are still closed. With dinner time being post 8 pm and the mall closing time is also the same, it is a challenging situation for the fine dine-in restaurants, but still, most are doing well.”
Mall De Goa
Bhuvanish Sheth, Director Finance & Marketing: “Goa was a green zone and we didn’t have any case till May 23, 2020. But with the borders opening up, we saw the numbers of cases increasing in the area and that generated a fear factor among the shoppers. Currently, we are getting 1800-2000 footfalls per day and we are very happy with these numbers. It will take some time for us to reach the fifty percent mark of the footfalls. The mall is opened with 35-40 percent of the occupancy along with the food court. All the social distancing and SCAI norms are being followed in the mall. The weekends have not been so encouraging for us as if now, but we are hopeful that it will pick up. We are hoping to get 75 percent of occupancy opening up very soon.”
Inorbit Whitefield Mall, Bengaluru
Jawaaz A Sheikh, Centre Head: “As far as the high street vs malls situation is concerned, the catchment where our mall is, is different. Our mall is located in the IT hub where most people are working from home. So the natural walk-ins in the weekday were impacted. The weekends gave us the respite as most families came to the mall for shopping. On Sunday we also saw few children in the mall, which was quite a motivating thing for us. The dwell time for the shoppers was quite short. Groceries, electronics and fashion saw more traffic in comparison to the F&B. The demand for digital and electronics was high as most people are still working from home and are in need of these products. There were security measures for the consumers at all the gates. Masks were provided to the shoppers who were without the mask. With the help of our teams, we helped the consumers to adapt to the new norms of adaptability in the mall. It was a kind of test which we wanted to pass and I think we have achieved that. We hope to see more customers in the coming week.”
WTP Mall, Jaipur
Komal Swami, DGM – Leasing & Marketing: “In the first week of operation, we have witnessed Millennial crowd and not the family crowd. We haven’t yet allowed people to come to the mall with their kids. Home appliances and other essentials stuff saw a good turnout in the mall. The first week saw 15 percent turnout in terms of footfalls in the mall. The conversion rate was not very high but was satisfying. The anchor stores witnessed 15 percent of the business and it was 20-30 percent for the vanilla stores. We have opened the food court, but it is the most impacted segment in the mall with only 40 percent of the food retailers opening up currently.
We were very much active on social media and made the consumers aware of the initiatives done by the mall for their safety. We have done an engineering innovation in the mall. We have installed ultraviolet light curtains in HVAC rooms, which helps in purifying the air continuously. It reduces the risk of spreading the virus in the mall.”
Centre Square Mall, Kochi
Monu Nair, Head – Leasing: “We did huge preparation for reopening and our entire team worked in and out to make this happen. We made all the plans and followed the SCAI SOPs including our own. We made checklists and worked on every parameter before opening the mall. The first day was very positive as we kept on checking with all the retailers about their responses. In the weekend, most of the brands including the anchor stores did a good business, almost to the 60-65 percent to the business which they were doing before COVID-19 struck, which is very encouraging. The vanilla stores and the jewellery stores retailers were also happy with the response.”
“Our team is working on an app, which will tell us the exact number of customer checking into the mall. We have a database and as part of our marketing initiative, we did send messages to all the consumers making them believe that we are using all the safety measures and recommendations issued by the State Government and the SCAI. We also created a video, which will be circulated shortly. We also tied up with a Swedish company that issued a ‘Certificate of Disinfection’ by using LifeClean, the patented Swedish disinfecting Technology by Care of Sweden Healthcare Private Limited to all the retailers in the mall. This helped in building confidence in the consumers.”
DLF Avenue, New Delhi
Muckth Dograa, Centre Head DLF Avenue: “In Delhi, the approach has been very cautious one so far. The conversion ratio has been very high. The targeted focus for the audience throughout has been shopping. As the cinemas are yet to open, the F&B is feeling the heat currently as Delhi shoppers have the culture of visiting all three segments in one visit. With every passing day, we have seen a higher number of people coming to the mall. The apparel, at- leisure brands have seen the maximum footfalls. People are very confident in shopping in the mall than the high street. All the safety measures are being implemented, with our team helping out the consumers with the social distancing, masks, thermal scanning etc. These things are making a good impact on the psychology of consumer behaviour.
We interacted with our retailer partners throughout the period, exchanged SOPs and feedbacks. We were in touch with SCAI for their guidelines. The mall is launching ‘Lukout app’ which is linked with the Aarogya Setu app. Besides it gives notification of what all things are available in the stores and also alerts the customer if the store is overcrowded. The app is a platform which will check the social distancing norm as well and notify the consumer accordingly.”
Novelty Mall, Pathankot
Parvinder Singh, Centre Head: “The mall is located on the highway area and gets its consumers from Dalhousie, Gurdaspur along with the Pathankot. Right now we are getting consumers only from the Punjab regions as the borders are sealed. We are ensuring people to come to the mall, as we are providing them with a safer environment. This was our message to the consumers on the social media platform. We opened the mall on June 8.
The extra advantage which we had was that our mall was fumigated by the Municipal Corporation. Since the municipal corporation was involved, every detail was given out in the media. The videos of sanitization were uploaded on social media. The average footfall was 1500 per day before the COVID-19 and currently, we are receiving around 500 people on a daily basis. Adidas did a business of 50,000 on Friday. We are still waiting for the female shoppers shoppers along with the kids in the coming days.”
GVK One Mall, Hyderabad
N Parthasaradhy, VP: “We opened on June 10 and our first achievement was that we opened with 94 percent of vanilla stores, along with 75 percent of the food court in the mall. The footfall in the mall is around 20-21 percent, we expected it go high on the weekends, but it increased by 10-15 percent only. Despite this shopping is happening in the mall. There is a big dropout in the number of young shoppers. We saw more of the family crowd. Usage of Aarogya Setu app is mandatory in the mall and those who don’t have a smartphone, they are asked to fill a self-declaration form. The sale in the mall was around 30 percent. As far as food court is concerned, we have noticed that earlier there was 10 percent of aggregators used to come to pick up the food from the mall, now the number has increased to 40-45 percent. We have introduced package friendly deliveries at the foodcourt. As far as operations are considered, we are doing audits, so that we get to know how retail procedure is implemented and whether it is followed in all the areas or not. For controlling the footfall density, we have put stickers on every store frontal which indicates the maximum number of people allowed in the store at a particular time.”
Ambuja Neotia Group, Kolkata
Ramesh Pandey, Whole Time Director, Marketing & Events: “We opened our mall on June 8 and we saw the footfalls increasing from Monday to Thursday by a good amount. It was really sad to see the number of footfalls reducing on weekends. One thing which we witnessed few shoppers were reluctant to enter the mall. They sat in their car in the parking lot and were asking the brands to deliver the product at there. They also requested the brands to take the payment also in the parking lot. This means that people are still scared to come out and shop. Secondly, people are buying only essential products currently, and don’t want to spend more on non-essential items, due to pay cut and job loss. We saw maximum sale happening in the electronics segments, with phones, laptops, gadgets and other accessory being the priority.”
Pacific Malls, Delhi
Salim Roopani, SVP: “We opened Tagore Garden on Saturday and the response was very exciting. The mall witnessed 30 percent of the footfall. We saw a good number of people buying the gym equipment from Decathalon. The footfall was quite filtered and people were doing focused buying. The dwell time was about an hour and a half. We created a 24*7 app line for the customer which provided information about the brands opened in the mall. We have installed food ordering and payment app, by which one need not requires to stand and wait in the queue. The parking is free at the mall currently so there is no-touch happening there. The customers were quite satisfied with the safety measures and acknowledged the mall staff for their efforts. Brands like Zara, Spar, Lifestyle, Apple is doing good business. Around 70 percent of the mall is operational.”
DB Malls, Bhopal & Gwalior
Sanjay Kumar Jain, VP-Malls: “We opened with 35 percent of retail occupancy and it increased to 75 percent by the weekend. The feedback so far has been very good. We didn’t have to educate the consumers with the norms as the crowd has been very cooperative and careful. The footfall is around 25 percent and the conversion rate is very good. The Apple store did a business of 7 lakh in a day. Footwear and sportswear is doing quite well along with the anchor stores in the mall. We have three layers of checking in the mall. So our consumers is feeling safe and hence they are coming to the mall.”
One Awadh Centre, Lucknow
Saraswati Singh, EVP: “We opened the mall on June 8 with around 30-35 percent of retail brands opening. Now we are operating with 80 percent of the occupancy. The footfall was low on the first day, but it gained momentum in the weekends. There has been a persistent flow of people in the mall throughout the period. We took a lot of effort in the lockdown period and as a result, we were able to offer the consumers a safe environment post lockdown. We have a trained Corona warrior team which regularly visits the store and looks at the SOPs that are being followed there.”